Why is it so hard to develop an identity as a teen? We all seem to go through the same stage in life where we constantly find ourselves asking, “Who am I?” Finding your own identity can be difficult as you start to see and understand the many different people in this world and begin to be exposed to diverse world-views aside from what your parents always told you. So how do you bring out your intrinsic identity?
Too often we let life’s current drag us forward and never stop to think about where it is actually leading us. We need to have some knowledge of the direction we want to go in as we grow into adulthood, or else we may never go anywhere and will always be going from one thing to the next. Because we are required to make several decisions as a teenager that depend on who we know we are as a person, we need to have a stable, rooted identity. However, many of us feel so pressured to try and figure out who we really are that we simply avoid maturing into the person we were made to be. Instead of doing unnecessary things that won’t get you anywhere or simply not bothering to do anything at all, try multiple new things to find your talents and your joys. We do not have to keep acting one way because of how we always used to present ourselves to people, and it is alright if some things you used to enjoy don’t seem to be a part of you anymore, because we will eventually get tired if we simply do the same things over and over again. While you shouldn’t stress about needing to try everything, never miss an opportunity to experience or explore new things.
Our identity often starts to disarrange itself as a teenager and our brains become especially vulnerable to the various influences we are regularly surrounded by. Because of this, many of us tend to change our identity based on external factors which constantly change. For instance, I found that directly after my family and I moved from British Columbia, I initially felt very removed and hollow. I realized how much I relied on friends and what I had been involved in to define me. We need to make sure we have an internal identity that will not waver based on other people, circumstances or environments. When we do not have a secured identity, these things may easily manipulate us.
Instead of trying to get to know ourselves, we often end up acting a way that others seem to appreciate. As we examine the vast values that different people hold on to, we often adopt their values so we can be accepted by them instead of thinking for ourselves. We think that if we act like someone and enjoy the same things they do, they will accept us. This is a very insecure place to be in because we know how quickly our world can change, including the people around us. Constantly switching your personality around different people will become exhausting. If you conform to each situation you are in, you will get caught up in trying to please everyone and forget to honour yourself. You may eventually become detached from yourself and have no idea of who you really are and begin to reflect multiple personalities to others. Surround yourself with people who will bring out who you really are, instead of hanging around those who may try to change you.
Spend some time alone to get to know yourself again by reflecting on your values. Although your world-view will always continue to develop, create a base of your beliefs while staying open minded and exploring different perspectives of the world around you.
Allowing yourself to do this may help to get to the core of your identity. Then, when you are in different social situations, you can reflect who you really are. You will see your gifts emerge as you interact with others and acknowledge the abilities other people see in you.